Snowy Mountains Correspondent and Jindabyne local Kate Donald hiked from Perisher to Charlotte Pass recently along the newest trail in NSW’s biggest and highest national park. Add this to your summer Kosci itinerary!

We Are Explorers acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Ngarigo people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview of the Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk

The Snowies Alpine Walk is a new multi-day set to open soon in Kosciuszko National Park. In April 2023, ‘Stage 3’ (of 4) was completed, unveiling a one-way 12.9km section of newly-built trail from Charlotte Pass to Perisher Valley.

As this hike is in the Snowy Mountains region of NSW it’s best walked in late spring to early autumn. It’s a Grade 3, day-hike that takes 4-6 hours to complete.

 

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk – Hiking the Newest Stage of the Snowies Alpine Walk in Kosciuszko National Park, nsw hikes, Photo by Kate Donald, alpine, back country, day hike, hikers on rocky and snowy trail at kosciuszko

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk Facts

Distance: 12.9km
Duration: 4-6 hours
Elevation gain: 485m
Closest town: Jindabyne

About the Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk

There’s a new trail in town that has the hiking community of Jindabyne abuzz with excitement. Once finished, the Snowies Alpine Walk will stretch across 55 kilometres, connecting renowned snow resorts; Perisher, Charlotte Pass, and Thredbo.

The trail combines pre-existing walking tracks including the Porcupine Walk and the Main Range Trail, with an additional 27km of newly-built trail. Hikers are welcome to explore any part of the track as individual sections for day trips, combine them to create an overnight adventure, or walk the entire track as a multi-day hike.

 

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk – Hiking the Newest Stage of the Snowies Alpine Walk in Kosciuszko National Park, nsw hikes, Photo by Kate Donald, alpine, back country, day hike, hikers on rocky and snowy trail at kosciuszko

 

Recently, 12.9km of new trail has been completed from Charlotte Pass to Perisher, leaving just one more stage until the entire trail is open to hikers. This section of the track promises the perfect day amidst the Australian Alps; venturing through open valleys, Snow gum forests, past iconic granite tors, and across cascading waterfalls, all while enjoying panoramic views of the Main Range.

Read more: Check out the 9km trail from Guthega to Charlotte Pass

History of the Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk

The entire track lies on the Country of the Ngarigo People. Based on archaeological findings and the local Aboriginal community, it is likely that the Ngarigo People lived in the sheltered valley floor during the snowy months, and visited the alpine areas for ceremonies and the annual Bogong moth feast with other tribes, in the warmer months.

It’s said that these journeys to the mountains formed paths on the land that European explorers used upon their arrival to the area in the 1820s. Shortly after, seasonal cattle grazing began, leaving behind farm trails and relics still visible throughout the park today. The construction of the Summit Road to Mount Kosciuszko’s peak was completed in 1909, paving the way for the very first section of the Snowies Alpine Walk. You used to be able to drive to the top of Australia!

 

Flora & Fauna of Kosciuszko National Park

Kosciuszko National Park is Australia’s highest national park, with 6% of the park above the snowline, including this track. As it’s blanketed in snow during the winter months, this trail is best walked in late spring to early summer to see the waterfalls in full flow, and the alpine wildflowers such as the Yellow Paper daisy, Purple heath, and my favourite, Billy Buttons, in bloom. Travelling through both the subalpine and alpine zone, the area is home to several unique and endangered animals including the Mountain Pygmy possum and Southern Corroboree frog.

 

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk – Hiking the Newest Stage of the Snowies Alpine Walk in Kosciuszko National Park, nsw hikes, Photo by Kate Donald, alpine, back country, day hike, hiker on trail at kosciuszko

How to Get to the Perisher Trailhead by Car

From Jindabyne, it’s approximately a 30-minute scenic drive up the Kosciuszko Road. Winding up the mountains, the road can be icy in the colder months, especially in the mornings.

It’s abundant with wildlife including wombats, kangaroos, wallabies, possums, and feral deer, so drive carefully. Once you’re past the national parks entrance, you’ll drive through a ticket gate, where a parks pass can be purchased if you haven’t already done so at the NSW National Parks building in Jindabyne.

From Tuesday after the October long weekend to Thursday before the June long weekend it’s $17 per vehicle per day and the passes last for 24 hours.

With plenty of places to stop along the way, the car ride can become an adventure itself. Stop for a swim at the Thredbo River picnic area, take in the expansive views of Lake Jindabyne at the Hydro Surge Tower, or pop into the historic Sponars Chalet. If you’re considering doing the trail in early spring, all 2-wheel drive vehicles are required to carry snow chains from the June long weekend, until October long weekend.

When you arrive at Perisher, turn left onto Porcupine Road, across from the Perisher Ski Tube building. Driving behind the chalets and ski lodges, the road will continue around to the right. Look for a turn off down Galaxia Place that ends at a small stream with a car park on the left.

How To Get to the Charlotte Pass Trailhead by Car

Continuing on Kosciuszko Road through Perisher Village, you’ll have views of the Main Range as you merge over Perisher Gap. The road continues to wind through the valley floor, past Spencers Creek Rest Area before an entrance sign to Charlotte Pass Snow Resort. Turning down Charlotte Way, you will enter Charlotte Pass Village, where the trail can be seen directly beside the road, with the trailhead located just beside the Kosciuszko Chalet.

 

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk – Hiking the Newest Stage of the Snowies Alpine Walk in Kosciuszko National Park, nsw hikes, Photo by Kate Donald, alpine, back country, day hike, hiker on snowy trail at kosciuszko with accommodation in background

Skill Level for the Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk

 Beginner – Intermediate

The trail combines a mixture of gravel paths, large rocks, and metal grates, the track is clearly marked, with plenty of signs to point you in the right direction at any intersections. With 485m of elevation gain on an undulating track, prepare for a thigh burner.

 

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk – Hiking the Newest Stage of the Snowies Alpine Walk in Kosciuszko National Park, nsw hikes, Photo by Kate Donald, alpine, back country, day hike, hiker with green backpack staring at snowcapped mountains at kosciuszko

 

Throughout the snow season (from June to October), the trail becomes a winter playground for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Without snow poles marking the trail, experience in the backcountry is necessary for winter hiking. Be aware, following a good snow season, or after a cold snap, some of the trail can be covered in snow even during summer.

Read more: Need to Know Before You Go Backcountry Camping

Essential Gear for the Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk

  • Daypack
  • Water
  • Sun protection – hat, sunscreen, SPF lip balm (UV levels are stronger at altitude!)
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Warm layers – gloves, beanie
  • Rain jacket and rain pants (weather can change rapidly)
  • Camera
  • First aid kit
  • PLB

Read more: Remember to leave no trace

What It’s Like to Hike from Perisher to Charlotte Pass on the Snowies Alpine Walk

After organising a car shuffle, dropping one car off at Charlotte Pass, we doubled back to the trailhead at Perisher, to start our hike. The trail starts on the Porcupine Walk, a popular sunrise location for us Jindabyne locals, we blasted up the path, eager to get onto the new track.

Winding its way beside Rock Creek, the Porcupine Walk gently ascends from the heathy subalpine to the open snowgrass and Snow gum woodlands of the alpine-zone.

 

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk – Hiking the Newest Stage of the Snowies Alpine Walk in Kosciuszko National Park, nsw hikes, Photo by Kate Donald, alpine, back country, day hike, hiker on rocky trail at kosciuszko

 

A short detour to the iconic granite tors known as Porcupine Rocks is worth it for the views down into Crackenback Resort, a glimpse of the shimmering Lake Jindabyne, and on a clear day, the distant windmills past Dalgety can be seen on the horizon.

Returning to the intersection, signs pointed us in the right direction to Charlotte Pass, now on the newly-made Snowies Alpine Walk, with views out to the Main Range still with patches of snow remaining from winter.

The trail clings to the ridge high above Thredbo Valley, on granite stone steps, with large granite tors on either side, we couldn’t help but remark ‘That is a nice boulder’ as we made our way through the rocks.

 

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk – Hiking the Newest Stage of the Snowies Alpine Walk in Kosciuszko National Park, nsw hikes, Photo by Kate Donald, alpine, back country, day hike, hikers sitting on rock with at kosciuszko

 

Descending now, the track was still covered by snow in the shade of the trees, but well-trodden footsteps guided the way down the icy steps.

The undulating track continued this way for a while; down into the valleys then up through the serene woodlands again and again. As the trail opened into another broad gap, with a trickling stream, we paused for a well-deserved lunch break on a prominent rock. ‘Hey, I’ve always wanted to come to this rock!’ Josh exclaimed. Laughing at this strange comment, the reason became evident as we peered down at the cars en route to Thredbo on the Alpine Way below.

With one more climb, we passed a tempting waterfall, that almost persuaded us to take a dip. We continued though, as the buildings came into view in the distance. Descending onto the flats, we crossed over the meandering stream, then finally walked alongside the road, making our way into the alpine village of Charlotte Pass.

Tips for Hiking the Charlotte Pass to Perisher Walk

The trail can be walked in either direction, however we chose to hike from Perisher to Charlotte Pass to get the best views of the Main Range.

We organised a car shuffle ahead of time; we took two cars up to Charlotte Pass, dropped one car there, then piled into the other car to drive down to Perisher to start the hike.

For those after a multi-sport adventure, drop off bikes at Charlotte Pass, and ride the road back to your car at Perisher. This is a beautiful section of road, with plenty of places to rest, and even swim in summer. Be prepared for high traffic on the road during school holidays.

Read more: 5 Best Hikes & Walks In Kosciuszko National Park

This piece was brought to you by a real living human who felt the wind in their hair and described their adventure in their own words. This is because we rate authenticity and the sharing of great experiences in the natural world – it’s all part of our ethos here at We Are Explorers. You can read more about it in our Editorial Standards.